“Whenever elements of the built environment are sharply divided (physically, visually or mentally), complex relationships among spaces, activities and people on the scale of the community cannot occur”
Continuing our exploration from the last stage, we have started mapping the following parameters : accessibility and inhabitants, (more precisely, the emergent patterns in the configuration of space, e.g., building buffers between public and private space) confronting conventional spaces, uses and materiality.
Interesting, is the need for residents in the Community to “mark their own territory”. Moreover, they suggest that physical territorial boundaries are there not only to avoid any physical and visual contact, but also to maintain ‘distance’ from the space abutting their neighbours’. As a result, defensive space is formed, privacy levels get higher, and social relationships (if any) are weak is at all.
From these readings of the above-mentioned patterns, emerged several micro-strategies we believe deserved to be tested.
This strategy challenges the existing relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces. As a matter of fact, people in Wenduine experience a strong delineation between those two postures, especially during winter. The strategy proposes to advance the very walls of the house further in the garden in order to expand the actual space used. The explosion of this strong and readable shell of the house in several places (of visual and physical boundaries) allows new practices and reduces wasteful consumption of space.
This strategy proposes to take the physical notion of the boundary to the extreme by expanding the thickness of the boundary itself. The aesthetic character of plantation is hijacked as a defense system to fill the entire plot. A niche is carved into this floral fortress, preserving a small pocket in which the house take refuge.
This strategy involves reconfiguring existing boundaries around and between individual lots. This notion is birthed from the idea that boundaries (physical and otherwise) are perceived differently and have different effects on those who engage with them. For example, a thick hedge might be perceived differently from a series of flower bushes. Also, rearranging the typographical layout of these different boundaries and testing the results, was an objective of this strategy. With this, we are seeking explore the notion of claims and ownerships of space; how people occupy and claim ownership of (physically) unoccupied space. The overlaps that result in multiple peoples implicitly and explicitly claiming ownership of spaces (private through public) is of particular interest and informs the micro urban strategies later developed. Zones/areas of inclusion and exclusion can be established, reinforced, diminished and even made to meld through manipulation of said ‘boundaries’; this is the core of these studies/tests.
The test challenges the notion of the external-barriers. This micro-strategy suggests a community free of barriers. The public-private diagram shows the radical changes between the high public and the high private. The complex notion of “entering” is eliminated and substituted by a simpler one which actually brings questions about the privacy levels of the home itself to the fore. The aim is to test the privacy levels of the house itself. Our exploration assumes that the more complex the territorial depths inside the house the more defensible it becomes the more the balance between the public and the private privacy levels. Can people feel more secure inside their own homes, instead of relying on their semi-private and semi-public space to protect them?
This strategy deals with the life of the street, and the life of the private space of peoples’ properties. We observed that in our chosen area there often the phenomenon of “defensive space” around peoples properties, and facing the street. We also wanted to address the fact that one feels uncomfortable walking on this semi-private area (“other peoples”-street) if one does not have business there. Here, we have tested a strategy of merging the often broad defensive space into one “compressed” single barrier. By applying this strategy the life on the street and the life of the private space become two distinct worlds; with no visual or physical interaction.
These strategies were submitted to locals’ opinion during our last trip in Wenduine. Although some of them were perfectly understood and accepted, we realised that we emphasized the concept of privacy vs exposure at the expense of the notion of security which should also be part of the equation. We defined four concepts to focus on in order to develop our architectural proposal : privacy, exposure, solitude and security.